by Peter A. Belmont / 2019-02-03
© 2019 Peter Belmont
Paul Krugman has written about the Attack of the Fanatical Centrists. He is right to see danger to America not from the extreme right or extreme left but from the unyielding centrists of both parties. As he writes:
Why is American politics so dysfunctional? Whatever the deeper roots of our distress, the proximate cause is ideological extremism: Powerful factions are committed to false views of the world, regardless of the evidence.
My take is that he is right and that the centrists are dangerous because they either hold or at least profess (as “party lines”) extreme and harmful ideologies. However, in most cases, I don’t think that the politicians hold these positions as beliefs; rather they hold and defend the views they are, in effect, paid to hold and defend; they answer to the demands of the billionaires and CEOs of large corporations who fund their political careers. That means that they do not answer to the people’s desires—whether those desires are way off base (“Make America Great Again”) or reasonable (tax the super rich to fund programs to support the people, such as the vastly expensive effort needed to turn back climate change).
As Krugman wrote, ‘In general, centrists are furiously opposed to any proposal that would ease the lives of ordinary Americans. Universal health coverage, says Schultz, would be “free health care for all, which the country cannot afford.” ‘
And these centrists include Democrats as well as Republicans.
Fanatical Centrists Slow Response to Climate Disruption
Even the IPCC—scientists who have pretty much identified the problems of and the required responses to global-warming-generated climate disruption—have toned down both their declarations of danger and their “demands” for corrective action below what today’s most clearheaded scientists are declaring.
And why? Because the IPCC answers to the UN and the UN answers to Fanatical Centrists.
Fanatical Centrists Make the Democratic Party Undemocratic
Of course, it’s not only Republicans who take money from billionaires and CEOs of major corporations. Centrist Democrats do it too. And when they’ve done so, they must of course tone down their actions which might harm those donors. Duh! Recently the DNC has decided to allow itself to receive money from fossil fuel interests with all the clear danger that Democrats will answer to the plutocrats rather than to the people who are increasingly calling for real action on climate disruption.
I’m very happy at the election of progressive “women of color”—Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—and I wish the Centrist Democrats were equally happy.
However, it is reported that some Centrist Democrats are proposing to support primary challengers to these newly elected progressive Representatives in an attempt to undo the leftward shift that the people have chosen to support.
In short, right now, Centrist Democrats are seeking to defeat democracy.
And this is little different from the way that Centrist Democrats worked to defeat Bernie Sanders at every step in the 2016 presidential primary, to downplay progressive planks to the Democratic Platform, and to keep progressives out of the leadership of the DNC.
Then, Centrist Democrats were seeking to defeat democracy within the party—and succeeded—choosing a Centrist, Hillary Clinton, over a progressive, Bernie Sanders. Had the party wished to operate on democratic principles, it would have given the people’s voice a greater role in the selection of a candidate.
Another example is Nancy Pelosi’s support for a pay-as-you-go rule for the Congress. Pelosi is, of course, the darling of the Centrist Democrats. And “PayGo” is a rule favored by those who would lower taxes on the rich to prevent enactment of expensive programs (programs to combat climate disruption, to provie medicare for all, to provide tuition-free state colleges and educational-loan forgiveness, as examples).
In another example, where the possibility of establishing a congressional committe on the Green New Deal came up:
Ocasio-Cortez had proposed a resolution to establish a select committee on a Green New Deal to work to wean the country off fossil fuels through a massive stimulus. The resolution stipulated that no members of the committee receive contributions from fossil fuel interests.
The panel Pelosi is erecting will not deal specifically with crafting a Green New Deal proposal. Progressive groups also had mounted criticism of Castor [named by Pelosi to head climate committee] for suggesting she might not prohibit committee members from taking donations from energy companies, though she has pledged to refuse such contributions.
Once again the Fanatic Centrists act to defeat democracy within the Democratic Party and in America as a whole.